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Good-bye and Amen: A Novel Paperback – July 21, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gutcheon concludes the Moss family saga that began with Leeway Cottage in a disappointing fashion. Laurus and Sydney Brant Moss have died, and it's up to their three children, Eleanor, Monica and Jimmy, to divide up the estate. Naturally, the process exposes old frictions and creates new ones while sparking reminiscences of their lives, notably concerning their difficult relationships with their prickly mother, who hid venom beneath a veneer of social graciousness. The narration is many-voiced; the siblings, their spouses and children, their friends and neighbors, and even the dead contribute to the storytelling. While the points-of-view of the living are maddeningly self-involved, the dead really seem to understand what's going on. The effect is both tragic and mildly amusing, but gradually, it becomes difficult to feel for the characters. Though the novel is beautifully written, the narrative becomes frustrating and claustrophobic repetitive as it wears on. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“Gutcheon’s gift is for pure storytelling. . . . Her characters and settngs are alive, sparkling with deft touches of period detail; her narrative voice is knowing and wry, exasperated and affectionate.” (New York Newsday)

“Good-Bye and Amen is a tour de force of structure and voice. Gutcheon had me at the first sentence and I didn’t put the book down until I had finished it. Marvelous and memorable.” (Karen Joy Fowler, author of Wit’s End and The Jane Austen Book Club)

“[A]n undeniably rich, no-holds-barred portrait of an American family. Strongly recommended.” (Library Journal on GOOD-BYE AND AMEN)

“[B]eautifully written.” (Publishers Weekly on GOOD-BYE AND AMEN)

“[C]ompellingly drawn…A true New England novel, charming but a bit chilly.” (Kirkus Reviews on GOOD-BYE AND AMEN)

“[C]ompelling…Beautifully written and told from varying points of view, this sweeping saga will strike a chord with anyone who loves to read about family. Four stars.” (Romantic Times on GOOD-BYE AND AMEN)

“Editor’s Choice.” (Denver Post on GOOD-BYE AND AMEN)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (July 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060539089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060539085
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,188,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The characters are very well drawn and the writing great.
Too many characters that were not necessary and didn't really lend itself to the story.
I haven't read the first book, but I will make sure I pick it up now!
Tonya Speelman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Anderson VINE VOICE on July 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I first began to read this book, I had not remembered reading Leeway Cottage. I read so many books I don't always remember. As I started reading this story about children and grandchildren dividing up a life when the mother and father die, the format seemed familiar. It is written in diary form. Then there were the different family members names. They seemed somehow familiar.

I went on line and brought up Leeway Cottage and read the reviews. BINGO!!! I had read it and remember really enjoying it. So I dived back into Goodbye and Amen and couldn't put it down. It sort of tied up the life of Sydney and Laurus Moss through their children. You also get to revisit places and things that you remember happening.

I would recomend reading Leeway Cottage first to really appreciate and enjoy Good-bye and Amen. I didn't like it quite as much but it brought back the memories of that novel and I think I am going to read Leeway Cottage again.

Great job to Beth Gutcheon. The characters are so real and her writing is so good!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bingo-Karen Haney VINE VOICE on July 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My Review of Good-Bye and Amen by Beth Gutcheon

As the sequel to Leeway Cottage, Good-Bye and Amen is the continuing drama about the Moss family. The story is still a fascinating stand-alone novel even if you haven't read Beth Gutcheon's first tale about this captivating New England family.

Good-Bye and Amen is written in a unique format and recounts how three siblings reunite at their family summer home in Maine to decide how to divide up their parents' estate. The story begins with the Moss children, now adults, going through their parents' possessions following Laurus and Sydney Moss's death. The marriage of well to do American Sydney Brant to talented pianist Laurus was a mystery to most people who knew them but especially to their children. Both their parents influenced the three children but their domineering mother was the one with the greatest influence on how they grew up.

Pressed by their own families to get their fair share of their inheritance, the siblings struggle with how to reasonably divide up what their parents left them while keeping their love for each other intact. This "lottery" of their inheritance also brings the siblings together as a way of saying goodbye to their parents.

Things get off on the wrong foot when the son, Jimmy, takes the baby grand piano that middle sister, Monica, wanted very much. Jimmy is the youngest and for years was off on his own, said to be involved with drugs, but has now settled down with a respectable job making computer games and living in California with his wife Janice. Surprisingly, Jimmy wants to be fair with his sisters, even though he isn't yet sure he wants to have a relationship with them again.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is obvious from the outset that it would have proven useful to the readers of Good-Bye and Amen to have also read Beth Gutcheon's previous offering Leeway Cottage. Perhaps then we would have had some inkling of who the characters in this saga were and how they related to the other characters. This reader was about 60 pages into the book, and continuously flipping back and forth in the story in an attempt to ascertain who each person speaking was and what their connection was to the other characters. (Had I realized that the BACK OF THE BOOK included "biographies of the contributors" that explained the background of each "speaker" in the book, it might have been a help, but alas I read the book from front to back and not from back to front).

Initial confusion aside, I ultimately did enjoy this story of the three siblings and their respective spouses, children, friends and adversaries once I got everyone sorted out. I even enjoyed the flow and structure of the tale. It reads like a diary from a group therapy session with everyone defending or justifying their actions while questioning the motives and actions of others. Ultimately we find that it is not the family the prays together, stays together.....but rather that blood is thicker than water.

All things considered, I'd give it 2 ½ stars.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on July 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When two parents die together, it isn't as romantic as one might envisioned. They leave behind all the stuff that needs to be sorted through and given to the family members. This novel started out with that premise in mind.

Eleanor, Monica and Jimmy met up at their parents' old house one weekend. According to their parents' wishes, they did a lottery type drawing and the siblings had to pick out what they wanted or what their extended family members wanted. And the novel evolved from that. There's Eleanor, the oldest daughter and the "perfect one." Monica is the much-ignored middle child and Jimmy is the most loved youngest. Their parents left behind not only material goods but memories that each of them had to sift through, especially Monica. The novel is more centered around Monica and her charming minister of a husband, Norman.

This is an unique story-telling style though and at first, I wasn't sure I was going to like reading different voices telling their own version of the same stories. However, after a few pages of reading it started to feel like I am at a family reunion where everyone is telling me their side of things ... and it moved along pretty well. It is a very fascinating way of telling the story and it does move the novel along pretty well. Gutcheon has a way of telling the story and keeping the reader interested until the end.

This is a novel about families, their expectations, their memories and how much their lives are tied in with their parents even after their parents have died and moved on. It shares revelations among the grandchildren and just about every voice in this novel is one that I can recognize and see within in my own life. There were honest voices, pretentious voices and sly voices.
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